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$10 million new gift from philanthropists Karen and Rob Hale for breast cancer research
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$10 million new gift from philanthropists Karen and Rob Hale for breast cancer research

Karen Hale, recently appointed co-chair of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) Board of Directors, kicks-off her tenure with an astounding $10 million gift.

This gift from Karen and her husband, Rob, is a welcome boost to the urgent need for research as breast cancer incidence continues to climb.

Karen and Rob Hale, known for their extraordinary generosity and impactful approach to philanthropy, are driving remarkable change with this commitment to BCRF. It is the single largest donation to BCRF by an individual donor in over a decade.

The Hales are among the most generous philanthropists in the country with a wide, diverse range of giving, all with the goal of advancing mission-based organizations.

With a long history of supporting premier medical research institutions including Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and funding dozens of community-based nonprofit organizations, the Hales have been advancing missions as broad as curing cancer and as specific as programs to help disadvantaged youth through lacrosse.

Last week, the Hales took a unique approach to supporting causes close to their hearts. Inspired by the powerful impact the Boston Marathon has on the community, Rob ran the legendary 26.2 mile course. Upon crossing the finish line, he and Karen celebrated by donating $26.2 million to charities making an outsized impact, which included a generous donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“Recognizing the immense impact the fabled Marathon has had on our proud city, we are humbled to be able to make these gifts to wonderful organizations throughout our region that support our community,’’ said Hale in an email letter to local charities sent moments after he crossed the finish line at Copley Square. “Please take and use this gift to further your vital mission. Together we make Boston Strong.”

“I’ve seen firsthand the power of research to extend, and save, lives,” added Karen Hale. “We were shocked when my mother’s breast cancer recently returned in 2019—but I also had hope because I knew of the tremendous progress made since her initial diagnosis over 20 years ago. Now thanks to BCRF-funded research, my mother is receiving treatment that has given my family more precious time with her. I’m proud to lead and support BCRF, an organization that has such a genuine and tangible impact in improving the lives of countless patients facing the fear of a cancer diagnosis.”

This year alone, BCRF, is funding over $60 million in grants to more than 250 scientists at leading medical and academic institutions across 15 countries.

Breast cancer research is at a critical inflection point as incidence is on the rise, health inequities remain gravely stark, and metastatic disease continues to take lives. And yet, the power of research remains evident: improvements in treatment and screening have resulted in a 43 percent decline in deaths over the last three decades since BCRF’s founding. In that time, BCRF has made transformative improvements across the spectrum of care, due to the power of philanthropy—from better strategies for prevention to new targeted therapies to landmark gains against metastasis.

Thanks to this incredible generosity from Karen and Rob Hale, BCRF will undoubtedly speed the delivery of lifesaving treatments for metastatic disease, help us to close the gap in racial disparities, and drive research to prevent the disease entirely.

 “We know that we will end breast cancer—preventing the disease from taking lives, and one day, of its ability to take root,” said BCRF President and CEO Donna McKay. “There will come a time when we look back upon this era of cancer and grieve for those who suffered its consequences. Karen and Rob Hale recognize the critical role of philanthropy in crossing that finish line, accelerating a future without this insidious disease.”

“Breast cancer is a complex disease with no simple solution. Research is the key to stopping it in its tracks. Founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. We invest in the best minds in science—from those investigating prevention to metastasis—and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. Our approach accelerates the entire field and moves us closer to the answers we urgently need. We can’t stop now. Join us in fueling the world’s most promising research. With you, we will be the end of breast cancer.”

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